Mrs. PG has released a new book, The Hollywood Murders.
“What’s that about?” you ask.
Here’s PG’s take on the book.
You start with two people who teach literature in Oxford (England, not Mississippi, with no offense intended toward alumni of The University of Mississippi) in the mid 1930’s. Their names are Miss Catherine Tregowyn and and Dr. Harry Bascombe.
Some visitors to TPV will immediately claim that there is no village called Hollywood in England, Wales, Scotland or Ireland.
Those visitors would be wrong and, most likely, living in America.
In fact, Hollywood is a large village in the Bromsgrove district of Worcestershire, England. It used to be part of Kings Norton, but, as they say in Hollywood, that’s so yesterday.
The Hollywood Golf Course ensures that Hollywood will never actually be in Birmingham (England, not Alabama, with no offense intended toward alumni of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Samford University, Birmingham-Southern College, Miles College or any of the three law schools in Birmingham).
PG has cleverly set his visitors asking, “Do Mrs. PG’s murders happen in England or in the United States? Thus residents of both England and the United States are already drawn into the mystery.
You don’t have to buy the book to get the answer (although you should buy the book for a great many other reasons).
The answer is . . . Hollywood, America!!!
Hollywood, England, will have to wait for a later book by Mrs. PG for its moment in the sun. But PG can make no promises.
Catherine and Harry are teaching summer English literature classes at The University of California, Los Angeles campus AKA UCLA.
But, wait! Did UCLA actually exist in 1935? This is the United States, after all, not England, and everything in California was built yesterday or the day before or, at most, last week!
The Southern Branch of The University of California (the original tree was in Berkeley) was created by law in 1919. It was a sort-of successor to the California State Normal School (not an adjective that is always used by those referring to the Los Angeles area) which had existed for awhile before that.
After being scurrilously attacked as “The Twig” by its hated rival, The University of Southern California, the Southern Branch became The University of California, Los Angeles, and moved its campus to Westwood, a suburb of Los Angeles. Westwood is east of Beverley Hills which is east of Hollywood!
Alert observers will note that this location makes it easy for a student at UCLA to travel a short distance and murder someone in Hollywood. Not that it happens all the time, but it’s a possibility.
So, Catherine and Harry are in the vicinity of Hollywood in the 1930’s, which is in the heart of the Golden Age of Hollywood. Mrs. PG is writing Golden Age Mysteries, so it’s a perfect fit.
While Harry and Catherine are perfectly comfortable in Golden Age Mysteries, Golden Age Hollywood is another story. It is not at all like Oxford. A Yank at Oxford won’t appear until 1938 and, suffice to say, the Yank stands out a bit although the Brits apparently like his style.
But back to Mrs. PG’s book.
Catherine and Harry are teaching away and, wouldn’t you know it, a big shot in the movie business gets murdered.
A Parisian movie star who made the mistake of coming to the United States for her American debut is accused of murder. Evidently, Los Angeles is short on local murderers, so they decide to lock up a European.
You would think they could find somebody from Nevada to lock up, but no, Hollywood is getting fancy, so it’s only right to grab somebody with an accent and charge them. The European damsel is, of course, innocent, but try to prove that in a town full of phonies who all came from somewhere else.
The L.A. police are a bit different than the Oxford constabulary, but Catherine and Harry still manage to eventually persuade the police that they need to arrest the real murderer.
Mrs. PG includes a few Oxford/Hollywood disjunctions and drops her sleuths into deep terra incognita but the two Oxonians at UCLA manage to come back from their summer with distinction.
The PG’s would appreciate it if any who feel they might enjoy her book would give it a try.